Through the first 11 games this season the former Mater Dei basketball star and Trinity League most valuable player was leading USC in scoring for a second straight year. Reinhardt gained national attention Dec. 17 when he made 7 of 9 shots from 3-point range and scored 29 points in a 101-82 win against visiting Cal Poly.
“He has worked hard on his game and his decision making,” says USC Head Coach Andy Enfield.
Making the right decision seemed to be a struggle for Reinhardt long before the 6-foot-5 guard graduated from Mater Dei in 2012. He originally committed to USC midway through his junior season with the Monarchs, but then changed his mind a few months later.
He eventually accepted a scholarship offer to UNLV and spent his freshman year with the Rebels, but didn’t feel like his skills were being used effectively and turned his attention back to USC, which had just hired Enfield as coach. He was expected to employ a faster-paced style of play that appealed to Reinhardt.
Reinhardt had to sit out the 2013-14 season under NCAA transfer rules, then suited up for the Trojans last season, hitting the first shot he took less than four minutes into his first game.
He went on to lead the Trojans in scoring at 12.5 points a game, and his 38.6 shooting percentage from 3-point range was tops among USC regulars.
Those numbers certainly weren’t bad, but there was room for improvement.
Enfield tried to get that message across by having Reinhardt give up his starting role and begin this season as a reserve.
“When coach told me I was coming off the bench, I accepted it and worked to get better,” he says.
Following a 17-point effort Dec. 7 against visiting Idaho, Reinhardt was put back in the starting lineup against Yale and again bettered his season scoring average by producing 14 points. That was just a warm-up for what would occur four days later against Cal Poly.
“He’s a much better player this year,” Enfield says. “He has bought into the team concept.”
Reinhardt’s 3-point shooting percentage climbed to 43.6 following the win against Cal Poly. Enfield says one of the key differences for Reinhardt this season is he doesn’t force shots when he doesn’t have a clear view of the rim.
“Katin has improved his efficiency,” Enfield says. “His shooting percentage is higher and he’s not taking as many contested shots.”
Reinhardt says the difference is maturity.
“You grow up,” he says. “You realize you take what the defense gives you. The end result is to win.”
A perfect example of that philosophy occurred in the Cal Poly game. Reinhardt scored his final points with just under 17 minutes left in the game, plenty of time to take a shot at his career highs of 35 points and nine 3-pointers in a triple-overtime loss last season, but he took just one more shot the rest of the game as the defense stayed close to him on the perimeter.
“I feel like, now, it’s all about winning,” he says. “I’ve been to the [NCAA] tournament once, I want to get back.”